‘I welcomed a young man into my home like a son and he wiped out my savings’

A disabled pensioner told how she was betrayed by a young man she had welcomed into her home. Cardiff’s Sally Johnson allowed her granddaughter’s ex-partner, Jarrod Moody, to stay with her and run errands for the shopping. But he repaid her generosity by stealing £3,500, the court heard.

Sally, a widow with leukemia who finds it difficult to walk, felt a maternal bond to Moody. The 73-year-old Lanrumni was shocked to learn that he had been taking her money for five months. The theft wiped out her savings and left her struggling to pay her bills each month.

Her granddaughter has been in a relationship with Modi for about five years and they have a two-year-old son together. When the couple divorced in 2020, Moody told Sally he had nowhere to go. She agreed to let the 21-year-old – who had grown up in care – stay with her until he could find another place. “I found him to be a sweet boy,” she told Wales Online. “It was hard and I thought I was showing him a side of family life that he hadn’t seen before.”

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The retired quartermaster said the arrangement seemed to be working well with Moody appearing “extremely helpful” when it came to shopping errands. Sally’s son Nathan, 46, said: “It was just him and my mum here. I was working away at the time, so it was company for her and it seemed to work out. We felt sorry for him and we were just nice people, he put a roof over his head. That’s what hurts all of us.” .

Moody now works at the Lamby Way recycling center, Sally said, but he wasn’t working at the time. He did not pay the rent and was given free meals. “I told him it worked for me and I felt good about things,” she said.

Nathan added: “There was no set time he was due to leave. Once he got here and everything was going well, it was no problem. He ran the whole house. His friends would come over. My father, who passed away in In 2016, he had a shed in the garden that Jarrod turned into a gym.

“My mother needed daily necessities, so every day he walked around the store with her card. She had money in her account from insurance after a storm at home, so at first she didn’t notice the money was being spent. I came back from work in Paris and was scrolling through the accounts wondering,” How did you spend that every day?”

Nathan said the thefts were done using cashback in a shop, usually £20 or £30 a day. He added that Modi was spending money on gym equipment such as a punching bag.

Sally trusted Moody so much that she initially suspected a local shop of overcharging. When she started looking at her bank statements more closely, Moody changed his approach, according to Nathan.

“He’d open a shop and she’d check her transactions afterward, but he’d keep the card and come back later to get the cash,” Nathan said.

The crime spanned a total of five months until June last year when the family realized what was happening. For Sally, the discovery was heartbreaking. “I found it very hard to believe,” she said. “We’ve progressed very well.

“This has affected me severely because of my situation. I live on a very large property and the bills are very high. My pension only covers them. I have no savings at all now.”

The experience caused Sally to suffer serious health problems. “I have peripheral neuropathy which means I have difficulty walking, and leukemia which is being managed and monitored. He knew that when he did.”

Jarrod Moody outside Cardiff Magistrates Court

Moody, now 23 and living in Chamberlain Road, Llandaff, pleaded guilty to theft. He was sentenced last Friday at Cardiff Magistrates Court where local judge Stephen Harms told him: “It looks like you got around £20 on average every time you used the card”.

Prosecutor Rehman Hit said the theft amounted to £3,500 and Modi agreed to pay £200 a month. He did that until October last year when the payments stopped. The court heard he still owed £2,350 at that point.

The family then reported the crime to the police, who gave Modi a conditional ultimatum in January with the stipulation that he pay the remainder within six months, but he ignored the order and made no payments – eventually leading to his trial for theft.

His solicitor Neil Evans said there was a “question mark” of more than £3,500 because it was not possible to ascertain which transactions were for the defendant and which were for the victim. But he agreed that his client had “exploited” his position of trust.

Mr Evans said Moody would be “haunted for the rest of his life” after losing his clean slate, but he had “started to turn his life around” with a job as an agency worker at the Lamby Way recycling centre. The solicitor added: “He is hopeful that after his first two years Cardiff Council has taken over as their employee.”

When asked about the job by the judge, Modi said it was usual for agency employees to be offered a contract by the board after two years. He added, “It’s a good fit for my partner down the street. It’s a great opportunity I’ve had. The pay is getting better and better even while you’re with the agency. It’s a decent pay, so I can get it but it’s still a struggle.”

Mr Evans said his client’s finances are “about to go downhill” as he is expecting a baby with his new partner, who quit her job before the birth. The court heard that Modi also deals with anxiety and depression.

Judge Harms said Modi had betrayed the trust of a woman who had helped him. The judge added: “He used it in such a way that day after day he probably thinks it’s not that bad but over time it becomes more important.”

Turning to Moody, the judge asked, “Were you smoking at the time?” Modi replied that he did. Then the judge asked how much the package cost. “About £13.50,” Moody said. “Insane,” said the judge.

Judge Harms said he would not impose unpaid work because that would mean Modi would have to spend his days off fulfilling the hours. “It’s not good because you end up with a child who doesn’t know his father,” the judge said. “And you know all the complexities that come from that because you’ve lived through it, right?”

Moody nodded and the judge continued: “You’re here because you didn’t pay. It’s your own fault you’re here. I’m trying to help you and Sally Johnson. I think you’re probably a decent lad. It’s not an awful offense but it’s a mean insult, because it was the person who had you.”

The judge did not impose any costs other than the £2,350 compensation because “the money should go to her as quickly as possible”. You must pay Moody’s at the rate of £160 per month. “You’ll work for her half a day a week, effectively,” said Judge Harms, who also mandated 30 days of rehab activity. “If I break this order, you will see me again.”

Nathan and Sally said their experience with the criminal justice system left them frustrated. They wondered why it took so long for the matter to go to court. Almost a week after the verdict, they had not been informed of the outcome by anyone other than WalesOnline. “We feel like we’ve been left in the dark,” Nathan said.

He said he told the police that he and Sally would have been happy to read a statement in court explaining the impact of the crime, but were not invited. No victim impact statement was read in court.

Sally thinks Moody should have been punished more for theft. She described the sentence as “puzzling”, adding: “It came down very lightly. It didn’t affect him.”

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